International Ministries

The Most Difficult Journey...

January 19, 2011 Journal
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There are some trips that I make that I can’t write too much about on-line.  One such recent trip was to a small country somewhere between The Netherlands and China.  I went as part of a team representing the International Christian Alliance on Prostitution (ICAP), invited by local Christian women to raise awareness about human trafficking and strategize ways that Christians can address the issues in their (very difficult) context.

Our team has done trips like this before.  This one was the hardest. 

The country is poor and violence against women is endemic.  Girls and women in large numbers are being trafficked out of the country to Asia and the middle east into labor and sexual exploitation.

We know that the value of women and girls in a culture underlies the issue of human trafficking.  Before we could even begin to talk anti-trafficking strategy, we had to start by talking about our value and worth in God’s eyes.   And we could barely get past that topic.  The stories poured forth:  women forced to marry at young ages because the only value they have as women is their value as a wife and mother; husbands often viewing their wives as possessions; live-in mothers-in-law treating their daughters-in-law cruelly—just as they were treated…. 

In the midst of the sadness, a humorous moment (which also illustrates some of the situation):  On our first day in the country, we were honored to be invited to a “bride party”.  In the family home of a new bride, our group sat on the floor with about 20 local women around a large square of beautiful embossed satin.  We were plied with soft drinks and tea, delicious snacks, soups and meat.  The new bride came and went from the room, slowly bowing each time, and wearing a succession of the 40 new formal dresses and hats required in her trousseau. Not being able to speak their language, we sat, smiling across the fabric floor-table at each other.  Finally, one of the particularly extroverted local women told another bilingual woman that she wanted to know who we were—and she wanted us to know about them.  The bilingual woman began translating for us all, and we were delighted to take turns sharing about ourselves.  They identified themselves by their name, age, number of children.  We identified ourselves by name, home country and profession.  When it came my time, and having lived in a culture similar to theirs with regard to attitudes about marital status, I decided that I would provide a “shocking” moment.  “My name is Lauran and I’m 60 years old and never been married”, I confidently declared.  Without missing a beat, the lovely extroverted woman who had gotten us talking to each other countered “My father is 60 and you can be his 2nd wife!”  We all dissolved into laughter!  But the reality of her immediate response to my declaration wasn’t lost on us:  women have value only in relationship to a husband. 

Today I received this desperate e-mail:

AJ is in danger right now. Her husband follows her all the time and forces her to come back.  She stayed in our parents’ house but he came there every day and harassed her so we decided for her to move to a guesthouse.  But he came even there and beat her.   After that we went to the police. Policemen called him but he says “I am not afraid. If you will not come back I will kill you.”  He and his friend (who is mafia) always meet her outside and threaten and they say “ we will never let you live your life.” AJ is lost and scared now and wants to run away from here. Otherwise he can do something to her or she says that she needs to go back. We do not want her to go back just because she is afraid of him, because when she will go, her life will be worse. Please pray for her and give us advice what to do?

I wish we knew what to do.  We are praying.  We’re seeking advice.  I can only find one point of grace in this situation:  because we were in her country, AJ knows that people care and are supporting her.  She is not alone in this dark time.  Many people are praying. 

There are no good alternatives.  Courts are corrupted and judges can be paid off to render verdicts punishing the innocent victims.  Police insist that they cannot intervene until medical evidence is shown that violence has been inflicted.  Bad decisions are going to have to be made from available bad choices. 

Please, please pray….that in the midst of everything, God would show His face…. that the innocents would be protected from harm, that fear would be overcome with Love, that evil will be forced to surrender…. May the Guidance of the Holy Spirit be evident….

Thank you for your caring, your support, your love.